He has already rescued 14,000 refugees – can he now intervene in the Afghan crisis?
As thousands of people try to escape a crisis in Afghanistan, Catholics may seek the intercession of a man who orchestrated the world’s largest humanitarian rescue operation by a single ship – the Servant of God Marinus (Leonard) The street.
LaRue, a captain in the merchant marine, was in charge of the ship that housed 14,000 refugees fleeing Korea at the start of the Korean War in December 1950. He later became a Benedictine monk in New Jersey, taking the name Brother Marinus, OSB. The American Bishops’ Conference recently expressed support for its cause of beatification and canonization at the diocesan level.
Brother Marinus “would be a wonderful intercessor at this time,” Bishop Elias Lorenzo, OSB, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark told CNA. “I often think of him as being very generous and his response to the call for service.”
“We must pray and also be inspired by those who came before us, like Brother Marinus, to be agents of courage and assistance to others,” said Father Pawel Tomczyk, priest of the Diocese of Paterson in New York. Jersey, to CNA in an interview. Tomczyk is the postulator of fr. The cause for the canonization of Marinus.
After the recent withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, Taliban fighters swept large swathes of the country and captured the capital Kabul on August 15. The rapidity of the group’s advance came as scores of Afghan civilians and American citizens still sought to leave the country.
Many people traveling to Kabul International Airport have since been blocked by Taliban checkpoints, and violence has been reported near the airport. A fatal shootout killed an Afghan soldier near the airport on Monday, the Associated Press reported, and a stampede near the airport entrance over the weekend killed seven people.
According to the White House on Monday, the United States had evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of around 48,000 people since August 14, including 10,900 people over a 12-hour period on August 23. There are still thousands left, seeking to be evacuated.
Tomczyk said the footage of crowded military planes carrying people to safety is a reminder that “history is repeating itself.”
“We’re just praying that we have more people like, like Captain LaRue, who would step in and do the right thing when the time is right,” said Tomczyk.
In LaRue’s case, the “right thing at the right time” meant orchestrating the largest humanitarian rescue operation with one ship.
On December 23, 1950, he embarked more than 14,000 Korean refugees on his ship, the SS Meredith Victory, at the port of Hungnam in North Korea; the ship’s normal capacity was 59 passengers and crew. LaRue then carefully trekked 450 miles through mine infested waters to safety in Japan.
The unarmed ship arrived in Japan on Christmas Day and miraculously suffered no casualties on board despite being overcrowded and under-supplied. Five babies were born safely aboard the ship during the voyage to Japan.
A few years later, LaRue entered religious life in 1954.
“I often think about this trip. I think such a small ship could contain so many people and overcome endless perils without harming a soul, ”said fr. Marinus said later, regarding the 1950 evacuation.
“And as I think the clear and unequivocal message reaches me that on this Christmas tide, in the dark and bitter waters off the coast of Korea, the hand of God was at the helm of my ship.”
In the current case of Afghanistan, Tomczyk said people should not only pray for the safe passage of refugees, but should also be charitable.
“We must of course pray, but also be agents of charity in the world today,” he said. “Hope and that personal invitation to his unconditional love for others are the two things that would definitely connect Marinus to this situation.”
Bishop Lorenzo knew Br. Marinus when he was in college seminary and visiting neighboring Benedictine monks at St. Paul’s Abbey in Newark, New Jersey. Brother Marinus often worked in the abbey gift shop or as an abbey porter.
Both of these roles were considered relatively basic jobs at the abbey, a stark contrast to his past life as a captain. As a simple monk, Br. Marinus did not pursue the priesthood.
“You would think that a man like that, the captain of a ship who did all of these things would have a much more important position in the community, but he seemed very happy with a humble and simple job in the service of the community. “said Lorenzo.
Lorenzo told CNA that he was totally unaware of fr. Marinus’ heroism until he attended his funeral in 2001, a testament to the monk’s humility. At his funeral, many Korean Catholics paid tribute to a man who saved so many lives.
With the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, Lorenzo hopes the dire situation will help raise awareness of the cause of Marinus’ holiness and his past heroic actions.
“Maybe this will further his cause of holiness, as we can get these people, especially those who have helped the US government and [persecuted] Christians, in particular, to a safe haven somewhere, ”he said.
The life and acts of Br. Marinus, said Tomczyk, could help remind people to stand firm in the hope of God and “that God works through people.”
“I am sure that in the midst of all this evil there are people of good will, people who act as messengers of God,” he added.
“And so I think [Br. Marinus] could be a sign of hope that even in the greatest darkness there are good people who, or generally serve others in need.